'By their fruits ye shall know them, not by their roots.'The Varieties of Religious Experience is William James's classic survey of religious belief in its most personal, and often its most heterodox, aspects. Asking questions such as how we define evil to ourselves, the difference between a healthy and a divided mind, the value of saintly behaviour, and what animates and characterizes the mental landscape of sudden conversion, James's masterpiece stands at a unique moment in the relationship between belief and (...) culture. Faith in institutional religion and dogmatic theology was fading away, and the search for an authentic religion rooted in personality and subjectivity was a project conducted as an urgent necessity. With psychological insight, philosophical rigour, and a determination not to jump to the conclusion that in tracing religion's mental causes we necessarily diminish its truth or value, in the Varieties James wrote a truly foundational text for modern belief.Matthew Bradley's wide-ranging new edition examines the ideas that continue to fuel modern debates on atheism and faith. (shrink)
What sorts of things can individuals have rights to? In this paper I consider one influential negative claim: that individuals cannot have rights to so-called “participatory goods”. I argue that this claim is mistaken. There are two kinds of counter-examples, what I call “actualization rights” and “conditional rights”. Although the scope for individual actualization rights to participatory goods may be relatively narrow, individual conditional rights to participatory goods are both common and important: they are one of the main vehicles that (...) the realm of rights has for protecting and promoting the interests that individuals have in participatory goods. (shrink)
We conducted focus groups to assess patient attitudes toward research on medical practices in the context of usual care. We found that patients focus on the implications of this research for their relationship with and trust in their physicians. Patients view research on medical practices as separate from usual care, demanding dissemination of information and in most cases, individual consent. Patients expect information about this research to come through their physician, whom they rely on to identify and filter associated risks. (...) In general, patients support this research, but worry that participation in research involving randomization may undermine individualized care that acknowledges their unique medical histories. These findings suggest the need for public education on variation in practice among physicians and the need for a collaborative approach to the governance of research on medical practices that addresses core values of trust, transparency, and partnership. (shrink)
Scientific realists often appeal to some version of the conjunction objection to argue that scientific instrumentalism fails to do justice to the full empirical import of scientific theories. Whereas the conjunction objection provides a powerful critique of scientific instrumentalism, I will show that mathematical instnrunentalism escapes the conjunction objection unscathed.
Feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theories have established that social identities such as race and gender are mutually constitutive—i.e., that they “intersect.” I argue that “cultural appropriation” is never merely the appropriation of culture, but also of gender, sexuality, class, etc. For example, “white hipness” is the appropriation of stereotypical black masculinity by white males. Looking at recent videos from black male hip-hop artists, I develop an account of “postmillennial black hipness.” The inverse of white hipness, this practice involves the (...) appropriation, by black men, of stereotypical white gay masculinity and/or non-American, non-white femininity. I also argue that Shephard Fairey’s recent images of (mainly militant) non-Western women of color can be read as a new form of white hipness that revises the traditional logic in two ways: (1) by appropriating non-white femininity rather than masculinity, and (2) by adopting the practice of postmillennial black hipness itself. (shrink)
While feminist aestheticians have long interrogated gendered, raced, and classed hierarchies in the arts, feminist philosophers still don’t talk much about popular music. Even though Angela Davis and bell hooks have seriously engaged popular music, they are often situated on the margins of philosophy. It is my contention that feminist aesthetics has a lot to offer to the study of popular music, and the case of popular music points feminist aesthetics to some of its own limitations and unasked questions. This (...) essay addresses the paucity of work in feminist philosophy and popular music by applying insights from other areas of feminist aesthetics to questions of popular music, and thereby using feminist aesthetics – specifically, Julia Kristea’s notion of female genius and the genius spectator – to critique itself. (shrink)
In this paper I examine how the constituent elements of a firm's organizational structure affect the ethical behavior of workers. The formal features of organizations I examine are the compensation practices, performance and evaluation systems, and decision-making assignments. I argue that the formal organizational structure, which is distinguished from corporate culture, is necessary, though not sufficient, in solving ethical problems within firms. At best the formal structure should not undermine the ethical actions of workers. When combined with a strong culture, (...) however, the organizational structure may be sufficient in promoting ethical conduct. While helpful, ethics training and corporate codes are neither necessary nor sufficient in promoting ethical behavior within firms. (shrink)
Noted psychologist and philosopher develops his own brand of pragmatism, based on theories of C. S. Peirce. Emphasis on "radical empiricism," versus the transcendental and rationalist tradition. One of the most important books in American philosophy. Note.
Is it even possible to resist or oppose neoliberalism? I consider two responses that translate musical practices into counter-hegemonic political strategies: Jacques Attali’s theory of “composition” and the biopolitics of “uncool.” Reading Jacques Attali’s Noise through Foucault’s late work, I argue that Attali’s concept of “repetition” is best understood as a theory of neoliberal biopolitics, and his theory composition is actually a model of deregulated subjectivity. Composition is thus not an alternative to neoliberalism but its quintessence. An aesthetics and ethos (...) of “uncool” might be a more viable alternative. If and when they function as bad, unprofitable investments, uncool practices like smoothness (predictable regularity) can undercut neoliberal imperatives to self-capitalization. I consider both the impact of neoliberalism on music, and how the study of music can advance theories of neoliberalism. (shrink)
A wide variety of sources, including the Huntington literature and popular mass media, show that Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” idea actually has very little value in understanding the current global political context. The central assumption of Huntington’s view, that cultural kinship ties influence loyalties and agreements on a global scale, has little to do with the daily lives of American citizens and little to do with the decisions made by the current presidential administration. The mass media evidence from the United (...) States shows that the most important “kinship” ties are not religious or cultural, but economic. The argument involves a deeper analysis of the current trend towards religious programs on American television, a timeline of events relating to the Halliburton – Cheney relationship, and views expressed by members of the United States military in Stars and Stripes. (shrink)
Passion and Action is an exploration of the role of the passions in seventeenth-century thought. Susan James offers fresh readings of a broad range of thinkers, including such canonical figures as Hobbes, Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, Pascal, and Locke, and shows that a full understanding of their philosophies must take account of their interpretations of our affective life. This ground-breaking study throws new light upon the shaping of our ideas about the mind, knowledge, and action, and provides a historical context for (...) burgeoning current debates about the emotions. (shrink)
Susan James explores the revolutionary political thought of one of the most radical and creative of modern philosophers, Baruch Spinoza. His Theologico-Political Treatise of 1670 defends religious pluralism, political republicanism, and intellectual freedom. James shows how this work played a crucial role in the development of modern society.
Gender, race, and sexuality are not just identities; they are also systems of social organization – i.e., systems of privilege and oppression. This article addresses two main ways privilege and oppression are relevant topics in and for philosophical aesthetics: the role of the aesthetic in privilege and oppression, and the role of philosophical aesthetics, as a discipline and a body of texts, in constructing and naturalizing relations of privilege and oppression . The first part addresses how systems of privilege and (...) oppression use the aesthetic. I will discuss various ways race, gender, and sexuality, as both embodied identities and broader social institutions, work with and through “the aesthetic”. The second part addresses racism and sexism in the discipline of aesthetics. Both in its history and its present practice aesthetics’apparent neutrality on questions of privilege and oppression is actually evidence of its investment in systems of privilege and oppression. (shrink)
The recent trend toward privately owned and operated prisons calls attention to a variety of issues involving human rights. The growing number of corporatized correctional institutions is especially notable in the United States, but it is also a global phenomenon in many countries. The reasons cited for privatizing prisons are usually economic; the opportunity to outsource prison services enables local political leaders to save tax revenue, and local communities are promised a chance to create new jobs and bring in a (...) new industry. This article will address the history of prisons and the recent trend toward privatizing prisons and the perception of prisons as a for-proﬁt enterprise. This new economic order brings with it a set of human rights concerns, including the relationship of for-proﬁt prisons to increased numbers of incarcerated persons and increased sentences, racism and classism. The contractual relationship between political leaders and prison corporations will be addressed, noting that conditions of liability frequently mean that prison administrations lack motivation to safeguard the human rights of prisoners. The human rights issues often extend outside of the private prison itself, having a negative effect on the local community. (shrink)
If the global economy seems unfair, how should we understand what a fair global economy would be? What ideas of fairness, if any, apply, and what significance do they have for policy and law? Working within the social contract tradition, this book argues that fairness is best seen as a kind of equity in practice.
In the context of feminist and postmodern thought, traditional conceptions of masculinity and what it means to be a “Real Man” have been critiqued. In Genevieve Lloyd's The Man of Reason, this critique takes the form of exposing the effect that the distinctive masculinity of the “man of reason” has had on the history of philosophy. One major feature of the masculine-feminine dichotomy will emerge as a key notion for understanding the rest of the paper: the dichotomy of reason-feeling, a (...) parallel and a foundational aspect to the dichotomy of masculinity and femininity. In exploring the history of symbolic conceptions of masculinity in ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and the present, one finds that the oppression of women is integrally linked to the traditional tie between masculinity and reason. There have been many efforts in recent feminist philosophy to rewrite or redefine “Woman” in such a way as to alleviate the oppression of women. I argue that the effectiveness of rewriting Woman for this purpose is problematic, primarily because any rewriting of this type must occur in the current historical context of hierarchical dualisms, like Man-Woman, masculine-feminine, male-female. These binary oppositions arguably find their roots in Pythagorean philosophy and can be traced through the Renaissance to our current historical context. It is these dualisms that have traditionally valued the masculine side of the Man-Woman dichotomy more than the feminine. Further, it will be argued that the hierarchical dualism of Man and Woman is so pervasive that if we rewrite or redefine the inferior, deprivileged side of that dualism, we cannot correct its devalued status. Instead, we redefine that which is undervalued but retain its devalued status. This particular aspect of attempts to critique hierarchical dualisms like reason and feeling has been reflected in the writings of many feminists, male and female. This paper will show that in cases where women attempt to redefine the dichotomy by revaluing the traditionally feminine (like feelings and emotions) over the traditionally masculine (like reason) their work is often mistakenly criticized for being purely political; conversely, when men attempt to redefine the same dichotomy in an attempt to allow men to “get back in touch with their feelings,” to be nurturers, their work is described in terms of providing a better epistemology. The current literature on masculinity explores alternatives to rewriting or redefining Woman that try to avoid the problem of status remaining with redefinition. This alternative is rewriting or redefining Man. Through redefining Man, one may be able to reconceptualize the privileged side of the hierarchical dualism in such a way that it is no longer privileged. Deprivileging, as well as redefining Man, is argued by theorists of masculinity to be possible because while the devalued status of the inferior side of a hierarchical dualism tends to keep the same status when redefined, it may be possible to redefine the privileged side of the dualism in such a way that it loses its privileged status. Unfortunately, many of these attempts to rewrite or redefine masculinity have detrimental faults of their own. Finally, this paper will discuss more promising possibilities for new definitions of Man, as well as a vision for better interaction between the work of women and men in general. (shrink)
The philosophical study of irrationality can yield interesting insights into the human mind. One provocative issue is self-defeating behaviours, i.e. behaviours that result in failure to achieve ones apparent goals and ambitions. In this paper I consider a self-defeating behaviour called choking under pressure, explain why it should be considered irrational, and how it is best understood with reference to skills. Then I describe how choking can be explained without appeal to a purely Freudian subconscious or sub-agents view of mind. (...) Finally, I will recommend an alternative way to understand self-defeating behaviour which comes from a synthesis of Peter Strawson's explanation of self-reactive attitudes, Mark Johnston's notion of mental tropisms, and revised Freudian descriptions of the causes of self-defeating behaviour. (shrink)
This introduction to the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy gives an overview of his philosophical thought to date and situates it within the broader context of contemporary French and European thinking. The book examines Nancy’s philosophy in relation to five specific areas: his account of subjectivity; his understanding of space and spatiality; his thinking about the body and embodiment; his political thought; and his contribution to contemporary aesthetics. In each case it shows the way in which Nancy develops or moves beyond (...) some of the key concerns associated with phenomenology, post-structuralism, and what could broadly be termed the “post-modern.”. (shrink)
I distinguish between the nineteenth- to twentieth-century (modernist) tendency to rehabilitate (white) femininity from the abject popular, and the twentieth- to twenty-first-century (postmodernist) tendency to rehabilitate the popular from abject white femininity. Careful attention to the role of nineteenth-century racial politics in Nietzsche's Gay Science shows that his work uses racial nonwhiteness to counter the supposedly deleterious effects of (white) femininity (passivity, conformity, and so on). This move—using racial nonwhiteness to rescue pop culture from white femininity—is a common twentieth- and (...) twenty-first-century practice. I use Nietzsche to track shifts from classical to neo-liberal methods of appropriating “difference.” Hipness is one form of this neoliberal approach to difference, and it is exemplified by the approach to race, gender, and pop culture in Vincente Minnelli's film The Band Wagon. I expand upon Robert Gooding-Williams's reading of this film, and argue that mid-century white hipness dissociates the popular from femininity and whiteness, and values the popular when performed by white men “acting black.” Hipness instrumentalizes femininity and racial nonwhiteness so that any benefits that might come from them accrue only to white men, and not to the female and male artists of color whose works are appropriated. (shrink)
Contemporary memory sciences describe processes that are dynamic and constructive. This has led some philosophers to weaken the relationship between memory and epistemology; though remembering can give rise to epistemic success, it is not itself an epistemic success state. I argue that non-epistemic theories will not do; they provide neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for remembering that p. I also argue that the shortcomings of the causal theory are epistemic in nature. Consequently, a theory of remembering must account for both (...) its fundamentally epistemic nature and for its constructive and dynamic processes. (shrink)
Still-vital lectures on teaching deal with psychology and the teaching art, the stream of consciousness, the child as a behaving organism, education and behavior, native and acquired reactions, habit, association of ideas, attention, memory, acquisition of ideas, perception, will, and more. The three addresses to students are "The Gospel of Relaxation," "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings," and "What Makes a Life Significant?" Preface. 2 black-and-white illustrations.
Aesthetic theorists often interpret and understand works of art through the social and political context that creates and inspires the work. The recent economic recessions, and the accompanying austerity measures in many European countries, provide an interesting test case for this contextual understanding. Economists debate whether or not spending on entertainment and arts drops during times of recession and austerity. Some economists assume that spending will decline in times of austerity, but others point to evidence that spending on creative arts (...) and entertainment remains steady and even increases during a recession because of the relief and escapism that the arts provide. Tax incentives and production rights are often given to filmmakers in the United States; in hopes that such projects will enliven a local economy and provide work for a local creative community. In the context of recent austerity measures in Greece and Spain, new and creative ways for members of the arts community to bring about new projects, and fund them in ways that critique political leadership, have emerged. Following Richard Wollheim’s classic aesthetic theory of “criticism as retrieval,” we should be mindful of the cultural values that are at stake in the creativity-culture market now being created. In any case, some scholars estimate that austerity measures in many countries will last until 2020, giving us ample opportunity to be even more “creative” with both financial incentives and artistic achievements. Keywords: Austerity, Cultural Economy, Creative Class, Tax Incentives, Aesthetics, Microtheatres, Entertainment. (shrink)
Over the last three years I have been fortunate to teach an unusual class, one that provides an academic background in ethical and social and political theory using the medium of comedy. I have taught the class at two schools, a private liberal arts college in western Pennsylvania and a public regional state university in southern Georgia. While the schools vary widely in a number of ways, there are characteristics that the students share: the school in Pennsylvania had a large (...) population of students raised in a middle class industrial context, and the school in Georgia had a majority of students from middle-to-lower class agricultural backgrounds. Because of recent collapses in the economy of the tool and dye industry in the Great Lakes region, and the ongoing concerns for development in rural and urban areas of the southeastern United States, both groups of students were in similarly dire economic and working conditions. All faced the distinct possibility that they would not do as well in life as their parents. Most of the students grew up with television and film and had a love of comedy when they arrived at college. -/- Entertainment and mass media contributed to the students' mindset and the lens through which they viewed and interpreted their lived experience. Comedic mass media in the form of television sitcoms and films were common choices for inexpensive entertainment, in their childhood, in their past, in their homes, and now in their college dorms and apartments. In asking students to connect their own history with cultural trends depicted in comedy in film and television, even through the history of television, gave the students a familiar venue to critically consider their own intellectual growth and development and that of American society as a whole. -/- Many of them were familiar with the internet, and enjoyed the internet as a source of information about celebrities as well as the history and episodes of their favorite television shows and films. Students are rediscovering and discovering television programs that their professors may have watched as children, with the availability of a wide range of comedy television programs available on cable, especially TVLand, Comedy Central and Nick-at-Night. -/- In this article I will elaborate on the value of comedy as a teaching tool for philosophers and professors. I will provide a number of examples, showing how comedy can provide fertile examples of ethical theory at work, and I will show how comedy can be used to clarify cultural norms and values. Finally, I will discuss the political activism and student empowerment involved in teaching Philosophy, Comedy and Film in southern Georgia. (shrink)
The culmination of William James' interest in the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience approached the study of religious phenomena in a new way -- through pragmatism and experimental psychology. The most important effect of the publication of the Varieties was to shift the emphasis in this field of study from the dogmas and external forms of religion to the unique mental states associated with it. Explaining the book's intentions in a letter to a friend, James stated: "The (...) problem I have set myself is a hard one: first, to defend...'experience' against 'philosophy' as being the real backbone of the world's religious life...and second, to make the hearer or reader believe what I myself invincibly do believe, that, although all the special manifestations of religion may have been absurd (I mean its creeds and theories), yet the life of it as a whole is mankind's most important function." Drawing evidence from his own experience and from such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, John Bunyan, and Jonathan Edwards, The Varieties of Religious Experience remains one of the most influential books ever written on the psychology of religion. (shrink)
The sentiment of rationality.--The dilemma of determinism.--The moral philosopher and the moral life.--The will to believe.--Conclusions on varieties of religious experience.--What pragmatism means.--Pragmatism's conception of truth.
Wittgenstein’s comment that what can be shown cannot be said has a special resonance with visual representations of power in both Heavy Metal and Fundamentalist Christian communities. Performances at metal shows, and performances of ‘religious theatre’, share an emphasis on violence and destruction. For example, groups like GWAR and Cannibal Corpse feature violent scenes in stage shows and album covers, scenes that depict gory results of unrestrained sexuality that are strikingly like Halloween ‘Hell House’ show presented by neo-Conservative, Fundamentalist Christian (...) churches in the southeastern United States’ ‘Bible Belt’. One group may claim to celebrate violence, the other sees violence as a tool to both encourage ‘moral’ behaviour, and to show that the Christian church is able to ‘speak the language’ of young people who are fans of metal, gore, and horror. Explicit violence, in each case, signifies power relationships that are in transformation. Historically, medieval morality plays and morality cycles had been used as a pedagogical tool. In the modern-day context of fundamentalist religious education, these Hell House performances seek to exclude outsiders and solidify teen membership in the Christian community. Hell House performances are marketed to the young church members, and are seen as a way to reinvigorate conservative Fundamentalist Christianity. Women and girls routinely take part in, and often organize Hell House events. In the context of heavy metal, violent performances do not seek to exclude, but provide an outlet for a variety of socially unacceptable or unpopular feelings. In each context there is an apparent, if not actual, empowering of women who are willing to play particular kinds of roles. The use of violence and gore has a value beyond merely shocking the audience, it is arguably a way that some women find their voice, both for fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist gore metal fans. (shrink)